Will Des McAnuff's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Blast Its Way to Broadway?

By Kenneth Jones
March 13, 2013

The Korean theatrical impresario Chunsoo Shin is one of the lead producers behind a plan to bring the sci-fi musical Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots to Broadway, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. Des McAnuff directed and conceived the anime-rich rock musical that uses music by American rockers The Flaming Lips.



The show had its world premiere in fall 2012 at La Jolla Playhouse in California, where Tony Award winner McAnuff (The Who's Tommy and Jersey Boys) used to be artistic director. The Times said that Shin and partners plan to bring the show to Broadway and markets in Asia; Korean and Japanese audiences are passionate about American musical theatre.

The earliest it might appear on Broadway would be 2014. No official Broadway announcement has been made. 

Shin told the paper that Yoshimi will cost $10 million to produce in New York, and that its capitalization at La Jolla was $3.8 million. The participating producers are reportedly Shin's company in Seoul, OD Musical; La Jolla Playhouse; and The Dodgers. Investors in Asia are being sought, according to the Times.

Shin, 45, has produced popular productions of Dreamgirls and Jekyll & Hyde in South Korea, and is among producers of the new Broadway revival of Jekyll & Hyde starring Constantine Maroulis. He was also a producer of Broadway's Chaplin, 2012's Jesus Christ Superstar and The Story of My Life.

Playbill has reached out to La Jolla Playhouse and The Dodgers for comment about the future life of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. The Dodgers had no comment, a spokesperson conveyed.

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As early as 2007, Playbill reported that Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots was in the works.

Veterans of director McAnuff's Canadian and Broadway revival of Jesus Christ Superstar punctuated the rockin', other-worldly production of his new musical Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, lit ablaze with the music of The Flaming Lips in a world-premiere staging that began previews Nov. 6, 2012, at La Jolla Playhouse.

Kimiko Glenn (LJP's The Nightingale) played Yoshimi in the rock musical that has a story by The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne and former Playhouse director McAnuff (Jersey Boys, Jesus Christ Superstar). Music and lyrics are by The Flaming Lips. McAnuff directed

Opening night was Nov. 17. The LJP run continued to Dec. 16 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA.

The cast featured Tony Award nominee Tom Hewitt (Zhivago, The Rocky Horror Show, Dracula, The Musical and Pilate in JCS) as Dr. Peterson, Paul Nolan (Jesus in JCS) as Ben and JCS ensemble members Mary Antonini, Laurin Padolina, Jaz Sealey, Jason Sermonia and Julius Sermonia. Returning to the Playhouse are Pearl Sun (The Seven) as Mrs. Yasukawa and Albert Guerzon (The Wiz).

Seven resident actors performed: ensemble members Richard Bulda, LaMae Caparas and Jonny Wexler; swings Chelsea Diggs-Smith (The Nightingale) and Christopher Cortex; and two UC San Diego M.F.A. students: Katie McGehee and Jack Mikesell, along with Nik Walker as Booker, John Haggerty as Mr. Yasukawa, and ensemble members Michael Balderrama, Emmanuel Brown, Ian Paget, Vasthy Mompoint, Catherine Ricafort, Vanden Thurgood and Jesse Wildman.

 

Nik Walker in rehearsal in La Jolla in 2012.
photo by Sandy Huffaker

Here's how LJP billed Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots: "Yoshimi is a young artist facing the battle of her life: the battle for her life. Adrift from her family and lover, Yoshimi journeys alone into a fantastical robot-world where she wages a war with fate. Her will to survive must be powerful enough to master the evil forces that threaten to destroy her. Inspired by the psychedelic music of Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips, this world premiere musical integrates music from several albums — 'Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,' 'The Soft Bulletin,' 'At War with the Mystics' — with Coyne and multiple Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff's poignant, humanistic story about the triumph of love and optimism over the mystery of our own mortality."

The creative team included Ron Melrose (musical supervisor); Bradley Rapier (choreographer); Robert Brill (scenic designer); Paul Tazewell (costume designer); Michael Walton (lighting designer); Steve Canyon Kennedy (sound designer); Sean Nieuwenhuis (projection designer); Basil Twist (puppet designer); Steve Rankin (fight director); and Gabriel Greene (dramaturg).

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The Tony Award-winning La Jolla Playhouse was founded in 1947 by Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire and Mel Ferrer. The following Playhouse productions have moved to Broadway: Memphis, Jersey Boys, Big River, The Who's Tommy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, A Walk in the Woods, Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays, the Pulitzer Prize-winning I Am My Own Wife, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Farnsworth Invention, 33 Variations and Bonnie & Clyde.